It’s Easy to Create Your Own COI. Don’t Do it

September 8, 2022

Are you a subcontractor or other third party that has been recently hired by a company that requires you to submit a certificate of insurance?

Did you know you can easily download a certificate of insurance PDF from several websites?

Did you know you can just as easily fill in a certificate of liability insurance template and submit it to the company that hired you?

Did you know you should never do that?

A certificate of insurance (COI) proves you possess coverage that meets the hiring company’s requirements. The company that hired you wants to transfer your liability risk to you and ensure you have insurance to cover these risks. Liability insurance helps cover medical and legal fees if you are found responsible for someone else’s injury or damage to property. In many cases, you must present a COI if you want to work. As such, you only have the power to obtain a COI from your agent or broker and submit it. You are not authorized to create or certify one. You can’t even sign it.

Your insurance agent should be the only person who supplies your COI.

Where Do Agents Get Their COIs?

Insurance agents typically get their COIs from one source. The ACORD 25 fillable form is the standard general liability insurance certificate. The form proves that the named insured’s coverage is active. Agents across the United States use the ACORD certificate of insurance, making it the most widely used and accepted document of its kind.

ACORD is not an insurer. The Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development issues and archives standardized insurance forms that define and follow industry guidelines. Their authenticity helps companies verify the coverage of their third parties.

While it’s true anyone can download an ACORD certificate of liability insurance PDF from the official website or any number of dubious places, only insurance agents should obtain a fillable ACORD certificate of insurance. As a third party, you can learn how to get ACORD insurance certificate samples but you should only do so to familiarize yourself with the form.

Can I Use a Sample COI?

Sample COIs can be useful educational tools. They can help risk management professionals learn what to look for when they receive them. In these cases, it’s acceptable to print a certificate of liability insurance sample and use it as such.

If you are a subcontractor or other third party, finding a certificate of insurance online can give you a basic idea of what one is. That should be where your search ends.

How to Get a Valid COI

Companies that request COIs from the people they hire can ask for them verbally or in writing. They can also request them in requests for bids or contracts.

Third parties can request them from their insurance agents. They can then give instructions on how to get insurance certificate online access or process the request themselves. Learning how to get a certificate of insurance that is valid is as simple as a phone call or email.

The Dangers of Fake COIs

A certificate of insurance for small business is powerful protection against costly claims and litigation. Although mistakes happen that cause injury, they can drain a company’s finances. Companies need to verify the third parties they hire have the right type of insurance coverage. Downloading and filling in a certificate of insurance PDF and then passing it off as the real thing can prove disastrous. A fake COI usually means there is no coverage. The company that hired you could go out of business if you hurt someone and you are not covered.

If you are a third party that is considering creating your own certificate of liability insurance, you are placing yourself and the company that is taking a chance on you at great risk. Plus, you should know that your company will likely discover your deception.

Many risk management professionals who are tasked with insurance tracking know how to get a certificate of liability insurance with little effort. They know that dishonest COIs are a reality. Their jobs involve validating every COI they collect. They know what information to look for. From poor photocopies to missing details, they’re aware of the tell-tale signs of fake forms. Some even use software like myCOI to rule out fraudulent COIs. myCOI can help raise red flags in the instances of problematic certificates. If you’ve turned in a COI you made yourself, myCOI can alert your company. You could lose your job.

An honest policy is the best policy in this case. Although insurance coverage might strain personal budgets in today’s economy, it’s crucial to protect yourself and the company that hired you. A company hit with lawsuits because their subcontractor wasn’t covered can go out of business. That could mean one less employer who can take you on.

One less source of income.

Is a fake COI worth that price?

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